In the Nama language, Namib means “vast” – the Namib Desert occupies around 80 900km2, stretching 1 600km along the Atlantic Coast of Namibia, varying in width from 50km to 160km. It is protected by the Namib-Naukluft National Park, a wonderland of 50 000km2 of shifting sands and vibrantly coloured dunes.
Having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for at least 55-million years, it is considered to be the oldest desert on Earth. The wildlife and flora surviving here are fascinating and have adapted to life in this generally inhospitable region in unique and strangely beautiful ways.
A trip to this area is a remarkably surreal experience, but most visitors revel in its strangeness. It is, however, the world-famous Sossusvlei sand dunes that attract the most attention. You will be awestruck by Sossusvlei’s huge sand dunes (the most famous one, Big Daddy, towers more than 300m into the air) that roar, ramble and rumble (yes, really), and melt in colour from creamy white, ochre and yellow in the day, to golden, rose-pink and deep red as the sun sets.
These magnificent dunes are accessible to any self-driving visitor and there is plenty of excellent accommodation in and around the area. The best time to view Sossusvlei is close to sunrise and sunset, when the vibrant colours change, allowing for wonderful photographic opportunities.
One of the best ways to appreciate the magnificence of this area is by light aircraft on a scenic flight from Walvis Bay or Swakopmund, or by catching a balloon ride over the dunes.